KOTA KINABALU: Sarawak avenged their defeat by notching a 2-0 victory over Sabah in their second meeting at the Likas Stadium yesterday.
Sarawak scored a goal each in both halves of the game with former Sabah player Wong Sai Kong netting home the opener early in the first half before second half substitude Khairul Azahar Edros netted the second late on in the second half.
In the first meeting Sabah won 2-1 in the match played at the UMS Stadium last Saturday.
But the weather has not been kind to both sides, as for the second time, they were forced to play on a muddy and watery pitch due to the pouring rain.
Sabah just could not demonstrate their passing game, and at times they looked lost, but on the positive side, at least, now they know how to handle it when playing on a muddy and water-logged pitch as they were tested twice by playing under the situation.
Yesterday, Sabah played with most of its regulars from last season that helped the team to Super League promotion, with the likes of skipper Reithuddin Awang Embran, Zainizam Marjan, Shahrul Azhar Ture, Mohd Farid Ideris, Mafry Balang and Radzi Mohd Hussin all in action.
But Sabah head coach and manager Gary Phillips opted for youngster Mohd Salawi Jasad to man the team’s last line of defence ahead of top custodian Azizon Kadir, who was rested.
New signings Hariri Mohd Safii, Sumardi Hajalan, and Zuraindey Jumai completed the first team.
Sabah had better domination of the game than their opponents, but chances were a few with Zainizam having a couple that he failed to convert into goals, while Radzi saw his attempt hit the goalpost.
Gary brought in striker Stanley Bernard Stephen, Leopold Alfonso Otong, Sabri Sahar, as well as Alto Linus to replace Sumardi, Farid, Radzi and Zainizam late in the game, but Sarawak stoutly defended their two-goal lead.
But it was two errors that cost Sabah the game that saw Wong scoring the first, while the second was a mistake by skipper Reithuddin after allowing Khairul to steal the ball from his possession, before the latter easily slotted home a grounder that defeated the hapless Salawi.
After the two matches, Gary has more to tinker on his choices as the team is heading to the Republic of Singapore for a week-long friendly tour where they are expected to play five matches.
The team depart today.